U.S. and Turkish leaders conducted the first U.S.-Turkey reconnaissance flight, the Pentagon said Saturday.
Spokesman Sean Robertson told Anadolu Agency that two generals, one from each country, flew on the same helicopter on Saturday.
This “milestone” followed establishment of the joint coordination center earlier this week, Robertson said in an emailed statement.
This flight demonstrates U.S.’s commitment to address “Turkey's legitimate security concerns on their southern border”, the statement underlined.
The statement also reiterated U.S.’s determination to “maintain security in northeast Syria so ISIS cannot reemerge”.
The first joint helicopter flight between the two NATO allies allows the coalition and U.S.’s partners to “remain focused on achieving the enduring defeat of ISIS,” the statement added.
In a phone call Wednesday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper agreed to launch the first phase of the Syria safe zone plan as of Aug. 21.
Akar said a safe zone east of the Euphrates River in Syria should be established within the framework of the principles set out in the calendar without delay, the Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Akar and Esper also agreed that military delegations from the two countries will meet in Ankara soon to discuss the next stages of the safe zone plan, it said.
Turkish and U.S. military officials reached an agreement on Aug. 7 that the safe zone in northern Syria will serve as a "peace corridor" for displaced Syrians longing to return home and a Joint Operations Center in Turkey will be set up to coordinate its establishment.
The U.S., which considers the PKK a terrorist organization, changed the YPG’s name to the Syrian Democratic Forces in July 2017 in order to dissociate it with the PKK.
In the last two years, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, allowing hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians to return to their homes.
The PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
* Writing by Zehra Nur DuzAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.